Lifta // Zochrot
A district judge has issued a warrant to freeze the bid on Lifta’s redevelopment. Now the struggle to save Lifta has moved out of the courts and into the public arena.
Update: In February 2011 the Israel Lands Authority issued a tender to sell 212 lots in Lifta, paving the way for a plan to tear down the village. A coalition including Zochrot organized to stall the plan.
A district judge has issued a warrant to freeze the bid on Lifta’s redevelopment. Now the struggle to save Lifta has moved out of the courts and into the public arena. We need thousands of signatures to save Lifta. Please sign this petition and encourage others to do so, too.
From the Israel Lands Authority's response to the court petition:
"It is... argued that some of the petitioners were born in Lifta. Beyond this meaningless argument, there is no evidence as to its implication regarding rights to lands of the village, as marketed in the tender. The petitioners argue that construction on the village of Lifta is inappropriate, since one day the land might be restituted to 'its original owners.' With all due respect, claims that essentially seek to prevent the state from deciding and acting on its territory in accordance with state authority are baseless and contrary to the explicit authority of state law. Therefore this argument should be rejected immediately."
Lifta is a Palestinian village that was home to about 3,000 people before the Nakba. It was seized in early 1948 after a series of attacks, including a massacre at a coffee house in December 1947. The residential center of the village was not immediately destroyed and tens of houses remain standing. The IDF tore holes in the roofs of the Lifta houses to make them uninhabitable, but some homeless people make use of them today. Lifta was the only depopulated village left (mostly) standing after the Nakba but not repopulated by Jews. The unique, lush village landscape attracts many visitors, especially to the water pool. One of the reasons that Lifta was left standing might be that its hillside location makes the houses almost impossible to reach by vehicle.
In 2004 a plan was submitted to develop 250 residential housing units in Lifta, effectively destroying the village. Zochrot and the refugees of Lifta, who live in East Jerusalem, submitted a petition to halt the plan. The regional committee agreed not to raze the cemetery and mosque, and to partially preserve some of the original village houses. During the committee meetings we learned that the planners did not even know where the mosque and cemetery were located, and one of the committee members asked if the mosque was “even active.” To raise awareness of Lifta’s plight Zochrot and refugees have hosted a number of tours of Lifta, posted signs at village sites, and published a commemorative booklet.